What’s the News?
Trackdays.ie are back with another of their extremely popular car track days at Mondello Park on Monday 20th of March.
Following their last two sell-out days, the next track day will run to a similar format on the 2.2-mile full international circuit at Mondello. The event runs an ‘open’ pit lane which means that drivers taking part can come and go on track whenever they like, for as long as they like, which makes for an easy-going atmosphere.
Where Trackdays.ie events differ from other track days is in the details. The company is run by experienced racers, Stephen Kershaw and Rob King who bring a wealth of Motorsport knowledge with them. Their goal is to turn the humble track day into an experience not to be forgotten. With that in mind their track days include all sorts of benefits and add-ons you wouldn’t normally expect find such as free lunch and all day refreshments, free tuition from their team of championship-winning racing drivers-cum-instructors, professional photography by brianwalshphotos.com – seriously, go check out his work, it’s pretty impressive.
They also have partnerships with big brands like Mobil 1 who usually come to the party with really cool merchandise to give away. The icing on the cake though has to be the DIY crisp sambo’s! On top of all this, the trackdays.ie website is fast becoming the go-to resource for track day related info and well worth a browse around.
Who’s it For?
Anyone with an ounce of petrol running through their veins really. Complete beginners and experienced track day veterans are catered for. A common misconception is that you need a fast or flashy car to take part – not so. Pretty much any car in good roadworthy condition can take part without the need for any modifications.
No car? No worries!
If you don’t have a car but really fancy having a go, you might be interested in their Arrive & Drive Packages. The car you’d be driving is the Trackdays.ie Ek Honda Civic which is a fully prepared, ex-Future Classics race car. It’s fitted with a tuned D15B SOHC VTEC engine producing just over 130bhp. That might not sound a lot, but combined with its light weight stripped out interior, uprated brakes and suspension and sticky track tyres it’s certainly quick! As you’d expect with a race car the Trackdays.ie Civic is fitted with all the necessary safety equipment such as multi-point weld-in roll cage, Bucket seats, 6 point safety harnesses and plumbed-in fire extinguisher.
For more info visit www.trackdays.ie or contact organisers Rob King 086 6042184 or Stephen Kershaw 086 8170009
Ahh January. A time to clear the mind and body, look forward to the year ahead, plan summer holidays and survive on pennies after blowing all the wages at Christmas. A tranquil time with not much going on. But then there’s the Monte!! The traditional curtain raiser for the World Rally Championship, Rallye Monte Carlo is a legendary prospect. All the off season talk and gossip is done with, anti-lag is primed and tonight the 2017 season roars into life.
This particular off season has been unlike any other in recent times. The main point early on was the new technical regulations designed to make rally even more appealing. Last year, Dungannon’s Kris Meeke, with Killarney Co-Driver Paul Nagle, set the record fastest average speed when winning in Finland, eclipsing the much loved Group B monsters.
For 2017, Meeke will have an extra 25% more power at his disposal with the all new Citroen C3, as well as a raft of aerodynamic add-on’s and a return of electronic differentials. The opposition have upped their game as well, with Hyundai debuting the gorgeous I20 Coupe, Ford (M-Sport) have brought along a wild looking Fiesta, and for the first time since ’99 Toyota are back with the Yaris WRC. Thought your track Honda had a big wing??
While car development dominated the early part of the off-season, the shock departure of VW really blew everything out of the water. Here you had the most dominant team of the past 3 years, racking up consecutive Driver and Manufacture titles, with an all-new 2017-spec Polo ready to go, simply pulling the plug. Brand image was at the heart of the decision, thanks to Dieselgate. Suddenly, what was an already crowded driver market had 3 of the best drivers dropped into the mix including current champion Sebastian Ogier. All previous thoughts of deals across the board were off. M-Sport got Ogier, so the new Fiesta carries both Number 1 (1st time a Ford has done so since 1998) and a vibrant Red Bull Livery. Jari-Matti Latvala takes the reigns of the Yaris in what is a very Finnish dominated squad, while last year’s WRC runner up Andreas Mikkelson lost out, and so he takes on the Monte in a WRC2 Skoda Fabia.
Irish fans should be taking a massive interest in how 2017 develops, as not only have we Kris and Paul as current favourites, Waterford’s Craig Breen is a teammate at Citroen. Breen will drive a 2016-spec DS3 in Monte Carlo, as the team rush to get further cars built, but expect a full assault once that comes online in a few months. Breen showed serious pace last year in his debut WRC works drive, so big things are expected for him and co-driver Scott Martin. There’s other Irish interest as well among the 116 car field, with former Irish Tarmac champion Eamonn Boland taking on the Monte yet again in his Ford Fiesta R5, with MJ Morrissey alongside him.
As the rally fires into life Thursday evening, I’ll be glued to live timing and rally radio. I’m flying out Friday afternoon, so the sat-nav is primed, I have the sleeping bag packed and raring for road. The plan, hopefully not ambitious but rubbish, is to camp out on the stages Friday and Saturday nights. The Saturday is handy as the locations I’ve picked out aren’t far from the service area in Gap, but Sunday is the exciting one where the plan is to get to the world famous Col De Turini. Now, all I have to worry about is getting the camera bag through as hand luggage, and dealing with the small matter of driving on the wrong side. So January eh. Oh for the quiet life!
There’s an absolute ton of new cars launching in 2017, the majority aren’t ones we’re even remotely interested in unfortunately but amongst the plethora of boring euroboxes and softroaders there are a handful that we can’t wait to see in the metal – or carbon as the case may be.
So let’s cut right to it – In no particular order:
Ford Focus RS500
If the current Focus RS is anything to go by the RS500 is set to be an absolute cracker. It certainly looks the part anyway. Power should be up from the RS’s 345bhp and weight should be down with a more stripped out interior. Production numbers will be extremely limited if past versions are anything to go on
By summer 2017 the Alpine name will be back in Renault showrooms after a 20 year break. The Alpine will apparently feature a mid-mounted 4 pot turbo driving the rear wheels. It will have about 250bhp and weigh in at around 1100kg’s making it extremely light by modern standards. Competitors are likely to be the Porsche Cayman and the Alfa 4c, so it’ll need to be really good if it has any chance of success!
This is a bit of a curveball as the vast majority won’t have a clue what this car is at all as it’s a one-off drift car being built by local man Darren Mcnamara. From what I can gather it’s kind of an homage to one of my favorite cars ever – the Audi S1 Sport Quattro which dominated rallying in the group B era.
The Shell is a long wheel base ur Quattro which has been converted to rear wheel drive. It has a 2.7 litre, 5 cylinder turbo motor, 6 speed sequential box and loads of custom fabrication to make the thing work properly as a drift car. So the car should look and sound more or less like the old school rally cars and I for one can’t wait to see it finished!
Toyota Supra / BMW Z5
Ok so this is possibly going to be the biggest let-down in terms of concept vs reality as the F1 concept Toyota released was simply spectacular.
However, the reality will still be a new front engined, rear drive sports car so whatever it ends up looking like we’re going to be pretty happy to be honest. The platform is being shared with BMW and the Z5 will replace the Z4. The BMW version is rumored to be a drop-top and the Toyota a hard top coupe body style. You’d have to expect a straight 6 to be on the cards as well with the BMW tie up.
Another car you can’t buy but F1 in 2017 has finally taken a step in the right direction, in terms of visual appearance if nothing else. Year after year F1 cars have got uglier and uglier due to regulation changes that only consider function over form. To be honest they still don’t look great but the new fat rear tyres and wide, low rear wings are a huge improvement. Now if they can just make the racing exciting enough so that I can stay awake through a full race we’ll be laughing!
By way of an introduction and rather than telling you how I enjoy reading and long walks in the country or whatever else people put in bio’s I though i’d just post up my car history. If you’re a died-in-the-wool car guy you’ll probably get a much better idea of who I am that way anyway!
Like a lot of petrolheads of meager means my car history is interspersed with some gems is but largely made up of cheap, mediocre turds – usually a necessity whilst waiting to buy the next cool thing… or while paying the price of the last cool thing!
998 Austin Mini (field car)
My first ever car, bought from the scrap yard for £50. Bolted on a loud exhaust and blasted round the field behind my house all summer. Despite 10 acres to play with I Still managed to crash it into the wall of the field!
998 Austin Mini
My first road car. It only cost £350 and looked like it only cost £350 too! Still I thought it was the best thing ever. It got some 10” minilite alloys and straight-through exhaust
Ford Escort Diesel estate
1.8 Non turbo – possibly the slowest thing I’ve driven!
1 litre. Second slowest car I’ve driven, but First car that would do over 100mph! Only downhill though
1300 Austin Mini
This thing was my first modified car. It had wide arches, 13” revolutions, adjustable camber arms and rear trailing arms, Full Janspeed exhaust and alloy inlet manifold. I ported & polished the head myself which worked really well except for the fact that it used to chew through head gaskets. Must have changed it at least 10 times – learned loads with this car.
Peugeot 205 gti 1.9
Loved the way this car looked but was disappointed in every other way. It was rattly, flimsy, not that quick and it didn’t even sound that good. Still thought I was the dogs danglies driving it round at 19 or 20 or whatever age I was at the time
Ford Escort Saloon
Blew up on the way home from the dealer – no oil. Got my money back and bought the Rover
Proper old mans car but actually had decent performance
First bike, little 2 stroke screamer. Great fun. Smokey as F**k
One of the best looking bikes out there. Single sided swing arm, proper race replica. Sounded awesome too and was properly quick compared to all the cars I’d owned to date. Sadly the VFR got knicked and that was the end of my biking career.
Audi S2 Quattro Avant
This has to be one of my favourite cars I’ve owned. The S2 is the quick version of the Audi 80. It has 4 wheel drive and the awesome 2.2 litre 5 cylinder Turbo motor out of the original ur Quattro. Mine was remapped to about 280bhp and lowered. It was really quick and sounded incredible! Wish I’d kept it, they’re worth a fortune now!
Mk 4 Golf
Used more oil than petrol.
Deadly car. Bog standard 1.6 diesel, non turbo. Never have I had so many people offer to buy a car off me as this Jetta
Audi A4 Avant
Remapped 1.8 turbo, had this one for quite a while. Quick enough not to be too boring a very practical
Nice, modern, but ultimately Forgettable
Westfield Hayabusa Turbo
Insane. Quickest thing I’ve driven. 350bhp at the wheels and a shade under 500kg’s Started life as my daily driver with a 1.8 Ford Zetec motor which I rebuilt with Dunnell stage 2 head, cams and twin Weber 45’s. Did a few track days and hillclimbs and gradually ended up as a track-only car with the bike engine conversion, 10” slicks and no windscreen, roof or doors
Standard mk1 road car. Should have hung on to this one
Davrian Solo Stiletto
This is a race car from the 70’s/80’s modsports/silhouette era. It was based on the Hilman Imp/Sunbeam Stiletto but had a fibreglass and aluminium honeycomb monocoque built by Davrian cars. Rear engine and super light weight at 450kg’s!
BMW E39 525
Meh. Nice engine
Peugeot 206 GTI
Big engine, 180bhp, small car, great seats. Shite everything else
2 litre tdi bluemotion with the DSG box – you couldn’t find a more perfect family wagon.
EK Civic Race Car
Current Trackdays.ie Hire car. Loud. loads of grip. Great car to learn in. Good craic!